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Yellowstone opens for winter travel, ends wildlife program

Posted at 10:58 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 12:58:32-05

BILLINGS, Mont. — Yellowstone National Park is opening its roads to oversnow travel after suspending a wildlife monitoring program that found snowmobiles and other such vehicles were having minimal effects on wildlife.

The park's winter season began Wednesday. Its monitoring program for snowmobiles and multi-passenger snow coaches began in 2012 after Yellowstone put caps on the number of winter vehicles allowed in the park.

The restrictions came after years of legal disputes fueled by concerns that too many snowmobiles were harming air quality and disrupting bison and other wildlife.

Future winter wildlife monitoring will be informed by science, according to the park, and may be different from the recent monitoring methods. The decision to suspend the program is consistent with the park's Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan, which states the National Park Service would continually examine and adjust strategies and actions as new information becomes available.